Researchers have settled that pressing question we have all been asking: “How many licks does it take to get to the middle of a Tootsie Pop (or Tootsie Roll Pop)?” Doctoral students at NYU determined it takes about 2,500 licks, as revealed in an article in the Journal of Fluid Dynamics, “Shape dynamics and scaling laws for a body dissolving in fluid flow” (World, March 7, 2015, p. 23). I don’t know how they did their research, but it was probably more fun for the lickers than for the lick counters!

I suspect everyone was counting when Naaman went down into the Jordan. His story is found in 2 Kings 5. Naaman was a great man, captain of the host of the king of Syria, a mighty man of valor, “but he was a leper” (2 Kings 5:1). Learning that the prophet in Samaria could recover him of his leprosy, he got the king’s approval and took ten talents of silver and six thousand pieces of gold to buy his healing from the king of Israel. The king could do nothing, but Elisha had a simple, though seemingly ridiculous command: “Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean” (10). 

 Seven is a number of perfection in scripture. Genesis tells us of a seven day creation. There are seven signs in the gospel of John, seven letters to churches in Revelation 2-3, seven trumpets, seven seals, seven beatitudes, etc. in Revelation. Israel marched around Jericho for six days, and then seven times on the seventh day. 

The issue for Naaman, though was not the number seven as such, but the necessity of doing exactly what he was told. Dipping seven times in the Abana or Pharpar of Damascus (12) would have better suited him, but it would not have been obedience to the command.

Naaman was angry at receiving such a ridiculous command, expecting Elisha to put on a big show of power, but his servants reasoned with him that he would have done some great thing if asked. “How much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?” (13). Did it really make any difference how many times he washed in Jordan? Would it have been enough to wash five or six times? Of course not. “Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (14). The Lord said,  “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). There is no other choice.

Peter commanded the multitude on the day of Pentecost, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). How many were included in “every one of you”? We don’t know, but “they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41). There must have been many who did not “gladly receive the word,” and did not obey. If Naaman had been there, he would have obeyed. How about you?


The Birmingham News (July 3, 2016) released a list, “The 100,” their rating of the 100 greatest football players of all time with Alabama roots. They range from number 1 Don Hutson, Alabama end from the 1930’s, who also played for the Green Bay Packers in the NFL, to number 100, David Palmer, Alabama wide receiver. Familiar names along the way included Cam Newton, Auburn quarterback, #5; Mark Ingram, Alabama running back, #48; and Ken Stabler, Alabama quarterback, #10. 

Rather than rely entirely on opinion, the list was based largely on honors received such as membership in the college and NFL halls of fame, NFL MVP, Heisman trophy, etc. No doubt other factors not revealed were included. I found it interesting that the other end for Alabama when Don Hutson was playing was a fellow Arkansas native, Paul W. “Bear” Bryant. Bryant did not make the list of “The 100.”

Hebrews 11 contains a similar list, given in chronological order, beginning with Abel, who by faith “offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and by it he being dead yet speaketh” (Hebrews 11:4). The list, sometimes called “Faith’s Hall of Fame,” continues with Enoch who “had this testimony, that he pleased God” (11:5). Other on the list include Noah, Abraham, Sara, Moses, Rahab, and many others, some unnamed. 

Verse 13 is a summary statement for all of those who made the list: “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”

We are in a better position than these Old Testament saints, because they “received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us” (11:39-40). We have the full revelation of God’s will, and knowledge that Jesus, “the author and finisher of our faith” has endured the cross for us and “is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). 

It is not necessary for our name to be on the list of “The 100,” but it must be in the book of life (Revelation 3:5). Paul looked forward to receiving a crown of righteousness from the Lord, the righteous judge, “and not to me only, but unto all them that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).


Many have noted the general coarsening of our society in recent days. The use of manners, it would seem, is a thing of the past. Too many parents are failing to properly train their children. I try to make it a point to compliment young people when they use good manners, holding a door for others, speaking respectfully, etc. Not everyone thinks that way, however. Tamarion Wilson, a fifth grade student at East Carolina Preparatory School in Tarboro, NC was punished by having to write “ma’am” 200 times after replying “Yes, Ma’am” to his female teacher, who had ordered her students not to call her “sir” or “ma’am.” The student was not intending to disobey the teacher, but he had been so well-trained by his parents that he was accidentally polite. His parents have since moved him to another class (World, September 29, 2018, 13).

Among the instructions Moses gave to Israel was the command, “Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head [gray haired], and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:32). Solomon likewise says, “The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness” (Proverbs 16:31). “If” has been added here by the translators, suggesting their understanding that not all aged men are found in the way of righteousness. Courtesy demands respect and concern for the aged, whether they by their lives have “earned it” or not. 

The problem for us today is that how we act is too often predicated on how others act. If they are nice and polite, we are nice and polite. But if they are like so many in our society who are neither nice nor polite, we act as if that gives us permission to be neither nice nor polite.

The way of the follower of Jesus is not that way, however. “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil” (Luke 16:31-35).

I hope that young Tamarion Wilson did not learn the wrong lesson from his encounter with his teacher. Even despite her, there is still a need for “Yes Ma’am” and “Yes Sir” in our society.


Many consider Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) the greatest American theologian and philosopher of the eighteenth century. He graduated from Yale University as valedictorian at 17, and became the president of Princeton University at 54, only to die shortly thereafter from a tainted smallpox vaccination. Best known for his 1741 sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” he was effective as an evangelist. His books include A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God, The Nature of True Virtue, Original Sin and others.

At the age of 19, he wrote out 70 resolutions that were to govern his life and ministry. Some include:

“Resolved, to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general.

Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.

Resolved, Never to lose one moment of time, but improve it the most profitable way I can.

Resolved, Never to do any thing, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

Resolved, Never to do any thing, which if I should see in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or to think any way the more meanly of him.

Resolved, to study the scriptures so steadily, constantly, and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.

Resolved, After afflictions, to inquire, what I am better for them, what good I have got by them, and what I might have got by them.”

If you make resolutions, you might want to give some consideration to Edwards’ resolutions. What we do with our lives is in our own hands. “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).